Action Comics Weekly #608 (1988)

Action Comics Weekly #608 (May 24, 1988)
Green Lantern: “Where the Heck is Green Lantern?”
Wild Dog: “Moral Stand, Chapter Eight: Winged Dog”
Secret Six: “Blind Impulse”
Superman: “Questions and Mysteries”
Deadman: “Gala Reception”
Blackhawk: “Another Fine War – Conclusion”
Writers – Peter David, Max Collins, Martin Pasko, Roger Stern, Mike Baron, & Mike Grell
Pencils – Tod Smith, Terry Beatty, Dan Spiegle, Curt Swan, Dan Jurgens, & Rick Burchett
Inks – Dan Bulandi, John Nyberg, John Beatty, Tony DeZuniga, & Pablo Marcos
Letters – Tim Harkins, Gaspar, Carrie Spiegle, Bill Oakley, & Steve Haynie
Colors – Anthony Tollin, Michele Wolfman, Carl Gafford, Tom Ziuko, & Liz Berube
Edits – Denny O’Neil, Mike Gold, Dick Giordano, Renee Witterstaetter, Mike Carlin, & Barbara Randall
Cover Price: $1.50

There’s change in the air here at Chris is on Infinite Earths… this week marks the first time we put a feature back on the shelf.  Blackhawk’s initial Action Comics Weekly story arc wraps up here.  We won’t be seeing ol’ Jonas again ’round these parts until May.

In his place will be Black Canary, whose feature actually starts tomorrow!  That’s right, she actually bumps the Green Lantern feature to the end of the rotation for one-week only.

Of course, if you’ve been reading along, this isn’t new information.  Figure I might as well include it for the “trade waiters” though!

Let’s move on and take a look at this week’s cover.  It’s… well, it’s kind of a thing, innit?  I saw that it was signed “Smith”, and just assumed it was a strange take from (current GL-feature artist) Tod Smith.  Indeed it’s not.  This is actually Paul Smith… one of my all-time favorite X-Men artists… and I couldn’t even recognize it!

It’s not the worst cover we’ve seen, but, I always have trouble with Hal’s facial-to-neck structure here.  His face looks like it’s narrowing toward the mouth… If I were to draw my eyes down it slowly, I’d be almost certain we were about to find out that a relative of Beta Ray Bill had become a Green Lantern.

Anyhoo… I feel like it’s “okay”, but a bit “off”.

Uh-oh, we’re about to head into Pollookaville, USA:

Better voter turn-out this week… though, I suppose that isn’t saying much.  Blackhawk’s streak continues with his penultimate chapter… I’m really looking forward to when the ACW Letters Pages start sharing the results of the actual polls.  Another streak… Superman still with the goose-egg.  Well earned, lad!

My Rankings for last week’s stories (#607) would be:
1 – Wild Dog
2 – Blackhawk
3 – Secret Six
4 – Green Lantern
5 – Deadman
6 – Superman

Here’s this week’s poll:

Best Story in Action Comics Weekly #608

Green Lantern

Wild Dog

Secret Six




Shareable Link to Poll: 

We open with Oprah Winfrey shouting at a Producer… because her guest, Green Lantern has yet to arrive.  This is, of course, because Hal Jordan is a complete boob, who is incapable of keeping his appointments.  Actually, this time he gets to blame his near-tardiness on a “blasted hotel alarm clock”, which begs the question… can’t his ring just do that?  Like, act as an alarm?  Anyhoo… he bursts out of bed, and into the bathroom, where his underage girlfriend is in the shower.  He uses his ring to get him all gussied up for his big appearance.

On his way into Chicago, Hal happens across a group of armored car thieves… who are in the middle of stealing, well… ya know.  They realize that Green Lantern is on their tail, and so, they open fire.  Hal manages to deflect their shot… and then concocts a King Kong-esque construct to really ruin their day.

We hop back over to Oprah who is counting down the seconds to “showtime”, realizing that she might have to use a “back-up guest”.  Lucky for her (I guess), Hal arrives with a whole three seconds to spare!

As the program goes on the air, Hal looks to, well… clear the air about the whole Carol Ferris mess.  He even goes into the “quick and dirty” on the whole Green Lantern Corps.

After about a half-hour of jibbuh-jabbuh, Oprah turns to the audience for questions.  A woman asks Hal why, out of everyone, was he chosen to be Green Lantern.  To which, he replies… that he is totally without fear.  Fair enough, right?

Wellllll… the crowd ain’t buyin’ it!  Either that, or the Joker released some gas into the studio.

So yeah, it’s the Oprah chapter!

A chapter that I had to do the ol’ double-take over when I first read it.  Just couldn’t wrap my head around it… I mean, I shouldn’t assume, but I don’t think there’s much crossover between Oprah fans and comic fans.  Heck, I suppose I could be wrong.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

I guess we could talk a bit about how Hal should never be late to anything… and how he should probably use the ring as an alarm clock rather than relying on whatever happens to be in the room he’s sleeping in… especially when he’s got a pressing appointment, ya know?

Nahhh, let’s talk Oprah (that sounds like one of those Twitter accounts, dunnit?).  I think Peter David did a good job with her… though, there’s (outside of her appearance) nothing really “Oprah-centric” about her.  I mean, this could’a been Bethany Snow… or whoever hosted that Impossible… But True! show in Gotham City.  I kinda think it’s cooler using Oprah just for the “what the…?” factor, but I don’t see much other added value.

I wonder if Oprah even knew about this?  Ehh, probably not.

All’at said, I dug the scenes taking place during the “show”.  Kinda wish we didn’t skip Hal’s explanation though… I really wanted to hear how he’d explain away all of the craziness… to an audience full of “civilians”, ya know?  The rolled-eyes in the audience would’ve been worth all the repetitive exposition alone.

Speaking of audience reactions, we wrap up with them raucously laughing at the notion that Green Lantern is truly a man without fear.  This is the concept we’re going to be building the rest of this story arc on, and it’s a darn good one.  I don’t wanna spoil the “big reveal” (that was retconned just as soon as it happened)… but, we’ll get there… and we’ll have fun doing it!

Overall… a fun chapter that sets up our next arc quite well.

We open a moment before the ending of our previous chapter.  That black-clad Moralist (who we’ve been calling “Sir”… because, well, that’s what he told us to call him) looks to have been sniped… but in actuality, he just went boom.  I mean, we couldn’t have a Wild Dog cliffhanger without something blowing up, could we?  Well, I suppose we could have… but, what fun would that be?  Anyhoo, Flint and Gault are looking on and aren’t quite sure what to make of it.  From here, we shift to an eating establishment where Helen Whatsherface is waiting for her date, Dr. B. Lyle Layman to finish up with a phone call.  He proceeds to lay the sweet-talk on pretty thick.

We rejoin Andy Flint as he arrives at Wheeler’s garage.  He finds Jack, and immediately notices his bandaged arm.  Remember, he’d gotten shot with that armor-piercing bullet last time out.  He asks who patched him up… but he doesn’t spill the beans.  We, of course, know that it was Lou Godder.  Andy breaks the news on “Sir’s” explosion, and posits that Layman might have triggered the blast.

The true identity of Sir is revealed… and get this, he’s a Merc-for-hire, who likely answered that “Call to Arms” in Soldier For Glory magazine… just as Jack suggested.  Andy suggests that Layman used a remote detonation device (of sorts) to keep the Merc’s mouth shut… and, believe it or not, he’s right on the money with his guess!  Worth noting that Helen Whatsherface witnessed Layman making the call…

… though, when Andy and Graham question her the following day, she denies it all.  After the in-house interrogation concludes, Dr. Layman emerges from an adjoined room, all sultry-like.  Helen expresses remorse, but Lyle tells her to forget all about it.

Then… Susan King sighting!  Susan King sighting!  Boy, it feels like it’s been forever since we’ve seen her face!  She’s on the news, talking about… what else, Wild Dog.  She reports that, in the earlier fracas, Wild Dog looked to have injured his right arm.  This report is via a television set, which is serving as background noise for Helen and Lyle… being together in the Biblical sense.

Later that night, Jack Wheeler reports in to the Legion of Morality… and is very apologetic for being a pretty lousy look-out during the Moline News Raid.  Lyle tells him not to worry, and sends him off into the locker room to “suit up”.  While Jack’s swapping clothes, however, a Moralist notices that his right arm is bandaged.  Hmm…

Moments later, Lyle joins Jack in the locker room… and pistol-whips him!  Looks like the jig is up, the news is out… they finally found him!

We wrap up at the Wundram Museum, where they’re exhibiting some sorta risque pop-art… which will be the Legion’s next (and final?) raid.

Alrighty… things are certainly coming to a head!

When I started this little endeavor, one thing I tried not to hold against these first features was “poor pacing”.  I mean, if it was egregiously bad, I’d comment… but I was planning on grading pacing on a curve… ya know?  Many/all of these writers were more accustomed to writing twenty-odd page monthly comics.  These 8-page chapters were likely going to take some getting used to.

Gotta say though… I didn’t notice any glaring pacing issues with Wild Dog.  This entire arc has been pretty tight, and really feels at-home in these shorter bursts.

So, whatta we got here?  Layman blew “Sir” up to keep him from squawkin’… and Helen Whatsherface looks to be conflicting regarding her blind devotion to the Doctor of Morality.  I mean, clearly, this guy was going to be revealed as a hypocrite… but, the fact that one of his “Lieutenants” is seeing it, is a pretty big deal.  I don’t see his story ending well.

Jack’s “discovery” was well-done… and, since now a handful of Moralists know about his dual-identity… well, just like Layman (and including Layman), I don’t see their story ending well either.  Though, gotta say, Jack not taking better care to hide his wounded arm… even inside a locker room… feels a bit “off”.  I’d assume he’d always behave as though he’s being watched… because, c’mon, he usually is!

Overall… this is another one I’m going to miss while it’s gone.  Next week will wrap up this arc… and we won’t be seeing the Dog again for several weeks.

We pick up right where we left off last chapter.  Mockingbird has revealed to the Secret Six that… a fella named Rafael DiRienzi is conspiring against them.  He further reveals that ol’ Rafe is the proprietor of the Enchanted Forest Magicians’ Cabaret… or, he was, anyway.  Ya see, Mockingbird done burnt that place to the ground!  As Mr. Byrd continues his screed, Rafael decides to git while the gittin’ is good.  The Sixers seem kinda split on the issue… they’re not sure quite who to believe.

Mockingbird’s transmission ends, and the Sixers set to fixing up the damage DiRienzi caused while breaking into the compound.  As this is going down, we shift scenes to the Pentagon, where investigations regarding the VTOL crash are underway.

Later on, back in Frisco, Mitch is fitting Vic with a latex mask so he can take a trip… and, ya know, hide the fact that he can only see via the grace of that weird helmet.  Turns out, Mitch is rather the gifted make-up artist… I mean, he’s right up there with Amazing Adventures era-Hank McCoy here!

We follow Vic on his trip into Boston.  If you recall, he was with a young lady in our opening chapters… and it looks like he’s looking for a bit of a reunion.  Only problem, she’s married… to (naturally) a grade-a jerk.

Vic and Gary-the-Husband fight a bit… and Vic winds up punching the poor jerk right through the window of The Pelican restaurant.  It’s worth saying that Gary did throw the first punch.

We shift scenes to the Patron City of the Cosmic Treadmill Podcast… Chevy Chase, Maryland, where a young mother is frantic over the illness of her son.  We join the scene as a Doctor is making a house-call, and for the life of him… cannot figure out what’s wrong with the lad.  In the kitchen trash can, we see a package of Farmer Ralph’s Bacon.  Hmm

We wrap up back at Secret Six Headquarters where Maria and Luke have decided to watch the video tape DiRienzi brought with him.  It’s of Mockingbird… and he’s talking to the original Secret Six.  He tells them of their final mission… to train their successors.  It’s here that our Sixers begin to put two-and-two(-and-two) two… er, together.

Strange little chapter here.  A lot of stuff I liked… and also some stuff that I really couldn’t care less about (though, necessary for the story to proceed).

Let’s start with the stuff I didn’t really care for.  The cutaway to the Pentagon.  Yeah, I know we kinda need to follow up on this, but, really… it just drags things down.  It also reminds me that this is a situation we’re going to have to deal with in longer form pretty soon.  Thankfully it only got three-panels here.

Vic’s reunion with Mel?  Not sure why we oughta (is it “oughta” or “oughtta”?  I’m sure I’ve spelled it both ways… and will probably continue to) care about this.  I get that there’s something between Vic and Mel, but, can’t even bring myself to shrug in indifference (though, dropping a poorly-worded paragraph on the subject isn’t a problem).  I will say that I dug Vic punching Gary-the-Husband through the window!

I also dug Mitch putting his special effects talents on display when making Vic look like less of a robot.  That’s something this feature has done quite well (for the most part), really highlighting each characters’ “specialities”.

Mockingbird destroying the Enchanted Forest was a neat touch… really goes to show that he’s not foolin’ around.  Gotta wonder if he knew Rafael was there watching.  The Secret Six never know whether it’s “Live or Memorex” when it comes to Mockingbird’s missives… so, for all we know, that was a live two-way broadcast.

This is also illustrated in how the team doesn’t quite know how to react.  There’s a pretty clear schism here between people who want to give Rafael the opportunity to explain his side of the situation… and others who would rather not risk losing the “gifts” Mockingbird bestowed upon them by asking too many questions.  It’s certainly a complex situation, and the conflicted dialogue here served it well.

The scene with Farmer Ralph’s Tainted Bacon sorta came out of nowhere, but I appreciate it being here.  I’d almost forgotten what the Six’s next mission was going to be.  It didn’t take up too much time or space, and served to remind us of what’s to come.  Well done.

Overall… the Six have nearly lifted the wool from over their eyes… and I feel like things are really going to heat-up from here.

We’ve got three rows of panels… and three little story spurs to play with here.

First, Clark Kent inquires about the Culpepper accident in California, which really makes him wonder about the man who blew up in his arms a little earlier on.

Next, we get a little insight as to how Culpepper might be in two places at once.  It’s not quite the doppelganger scenario I assumed last week.  Turns out, that explosion was actually the fella triggering an experimental “mass teleporter”, which is probably why he arrived out the other side all burned up.

Then, Mr. Galt is questioned by Metropolis Police.  They wanna know just who might be out to get him.  He’s certain that it’s non-believers in His Lord Superman.  The Officers have had about enough, and are all but ready to fetch the butterfly net, when… somebody interrupts.

Okay… this is more like it.  Some good use of panel “real estate” here.  We get some answers… progress the story a bit… and actually get a cliffhanger that I wanna see play out.

Not much more to say about it… just that it’s far better than all seven of the previous chapters.  Don’t see myself voting for it in the poll, but it might not be the worst thing this time out!  Or… maybe it still will.

We open with Deadman… and a bat, proceeding toward a light at the end of a tunnel.  Not sure where ol’ D.B./The Old Man in the Cave/O-Sensei/whoever that was is… heck, maybe he’s the bat.  As he approaches the light, Boston takes a leap of faith… and winds up popping right out of that Sumerian Jug!  Wow, that was easy!  But maybe… it’s a case of “out of the frying pan, into the fire”, because it looks like something else escaped the Jug before him… and turned some of the guards into crispy critters!

Major Kasaba and C.I.A. Director, Stan Kriptman get an eyewitness account… the escapee looked just like the Devil himself!  Boston feels responsible… after all, the Devil tricked him, so I guess he’s not entirely off the hook.  And so, Deadman does some Deadmanning, possessing body after body until he finds himself in the room with that ancient Mayan weaponry (wow, this is actually all coming together!).

He picks up the weapon… then finds himself possessing Director Kriptman himself!

As Stan Kriptman, he heads home… not sure how he knows where he’s even headed… but, I’m not much of a Deadmanstorian, so this might just be something he’d “know” after taking over a body.  Anyhoo, Kriptman’s got a wife… and Boston’s really looking forward to meeting her.  There’s also a hoity-toity Gala taking place for the Soviet Premier this evening… but, we’ll get there.

Upon arriving at “his” home, Deadman discovers that “his” wife has left him!  Seems ol’ Stan’s a bit of a tomcat.  The phone rings, and it’s a woman named Lynn… the very woman Stan’s been out tomcattin’ with!  She tells him that Mrs. Kriptman knows everything about their affair… to which, “Stan” suggests they both lay low for a bit… which was certainly not the answer she wanted to hear.

Then… there’s a knock at the door.  It’s some C.I.A. suit, and he’s “checking in” because it’s unusual for Stan to be home quite this early.  Guess these are peak “cheat on your wife” hours.  Anyhoo, Stan shows him the “Dear Scumbag John” letter, to which, the fella’s all “Oh yeah, I saw your wife stomping outta here!”.  They also briefly chat about another Nicaraguan drug trade thing… Boston tells him to “cool his jets” on that though.  So, some good might come out of this.

We jump ahead to the Gala… and Boston is convinced that the Devil will likely make an appearance.  He brings his briefcase, complete with Mayan Raygun into the reception hall with him… but is told that he’ll need to “check” it.  We wrap up with “Stan” being called over by some fella, who happens to be talking with his “good friend”, Lynn!

Well, we sure got outta Hell pretty quick, didn’t we?  Prob’ly for the best… I think that place was pretty well spent.

What we get here is, pretty solid.  Possession is 9/10’s of, not only the law, but of Deadman stories… and, to me… it’s both a good thing, and a bad thing.  In case you’re just joining us… uh, there’s a button to the right where you can catch up… but, also… Deadman ain’t one of my favorites because… well, he’s just too powerful.

Here we have him possessing the body of the Director of the C.I.A…. what’s to stop him from just invading the body of the President… or the Soviet Premier?  Uh, I didn’t just give it all away, did I?  I dunno… just seems too “easy”.

BUT… despite everything inside me telling me this isn’t something I should like… I do kinda dig it.  Am I maturing?  Am I softening?  Well, let’s not throw any babies up in the air just yet.

I certainly appreciate the call-back to the Mayan Temple… I’d nearly forgotten that’s where this whole story started, and was quite surprised to see it mentioned again.  It makes me optimistic that there is a story here, and it’s not all being written “on the fly”.  With the change in scene-and-stakes, I didn’t expect it to wrap back around.  Good job!

Overall… not sure I care all that much about The Many Loves of Stan Kriptman, but this was a really good chapter nonetheless.

We pick up right where we left off.  Red Dragon blasts a hole into Robert Massie’s gut… and he slumps to the ground.  Sister Cynthia rushes to his side, and it’s here that it’s made clear that she is, in fact, a Nun… and not Massie’s actual Sister.  Though, since there’s no DNA evidence to the contrary, I suppose I shouldn’t make such a definitive statement.  Janos is shocked to learn that his patron is a Woman of the Cloth.

And so, it’s story time.  Cynthia states that after Vietnam fell under Vichy rule, Buddhist Leaders were fearful of religious oppression.  The Catholics offered their services to protect their artifacts until everything blew over.  Unfortunately, between then and now, these treasures found their way into the hands of the Japanese Military.  Massie was an Army Clerk, who happened upon the records, and took off in pursuit.

Cynthia hopes that by returning the Buddhist treasures, she could help mend relations between the Buddhist and Catholic Churches.  So, ya see… she wasn’t here for any gold… just that idol, so she might return it to it’s proper Temple.

Janos is relieved… but not for long, we mustn’t forget about a certain Red Dragon.  She ain’t hip to the jive of bein’ bamboozled, ya see.  And so, she demands her guests by pumped full’a holes.

Just then… there’s a loud rumbling… and a bolt of lightning hits a nearby tree.  In the distraction, Janos jokes that it must be Devine intervention… while socking one of the guards in the mush.  He and Cynthia then high-tail it to the jet, and go for take-off.

The Red Dragon takes off right after, and she ain’t shy about exercising her trigger finger.

When all hope looks to be gone… Andre and the rest of the Blackhawks join the dogfight!  Hey, it’s about time he showed up!  In fairness, he was at a “Saigon Cathouse” (his words, not mine), so he kinda had his hands full.

Red Dragon cuts in front of Janos, and opens fire… however, she is quickly overwhelmed by the Blackhawks.  We watch as she’s shot down, and see her bail out before hitting the ground.  Though… it kinda looks like her ‘chute might be on fire.

We wrap up with Cynthia telling Janos that he’d earned his reward… in this life anyway.  He’s just happy to know that she only turned down his advances because she’s a Nun… and not because he lost that ol’ Black(hawk) Magic.

Well, there we have it… Blackhawk: Another Fine War, is in the books.  It’ll be joined next week by Wild Dog: Moral Stand… so, it’s about to become a little different around the humble blog.  Some might say “it’s about time!”, then again, that assumes anybody is still following along.

I’d say this was a very satisfying ending… Everything came together, the Blackhawks were reunited, Massie’s dead (I think), and Red Dragon… might… have survived to strike back another day.  I’m no Blackhawk-istorian, so for all I know, Red Dragon could be among the tippity-top tier of his foes.

The “Sister Cynthia” revelation was well handled.  I was pretty sure the “Sister” title was in reference to her being a Nun (rather than Massie’s biological sister… though again, I have no DNA proof sayin’ otherwise).  I feel like her mission was just, and I’m happy she was able to reclaim the Buddhist idol (Heyyy, I actually called that one correctly last week!) to return to its proper owners.

All told, this story was a whole lot of fun.  Pacing was tight, it had a lot of “heart”, and it actually “put in the work” to set everything up.  Really, just can’t say enough good things about it.  Before actually “committing” to this little endeavor, I didn’t know Mike Grell ever wrote Blackhawk… it’s a bummer his run was so short!  He will definitely be missed… though I’m optimistic that Martin Pasko will do well once he’s handed the baton in ACW #615.

So, with a tear in our eye… we’re going to put a pin in ol’ Blackhawk.  In his place will be Black Canary, who we will introduce to the party next week!

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2 thoughts on “Action Comics Weekly #608 (1988)

  • Billy Hogan

    The only issues of Action Comics Weekly I collected were the ones with Blackhawk.

    • Looks like we're *both* headed into (mostly) uncharted territory! I hope the Blackhawk-less issues hold up (though, I tell ya… next week isn't all that great an indication!)


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